Prayer Challenge

What are you doing on March 4th, 2011?

Can you set aside a few minutes, or an hour, to pray for the Arab world?

With winds of change ripping through the Middle East now seems like a good time to remember to pray for this region of the world.

Last week I received an email telling me about: Steering the Winds of Change - Arab World Prayer Gathering.

YWAM in North Africa and the Middle East is asking people to set aside some time on March 4th to join them in praying for the Arab world at this time where every day is bringing them historic changes.

A prayer pack has been developed and is now available in English, with other languages to be added soon. The pack offers an overview of the situation in the Arab World and helpful country-by-country information on how you can be effective in praying for the region – steering the winds of change!

If you are interested in this prayer event just shoot me an email and I will fw you the link for the prayer pack!

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." (Matthew 18:19-20)


My Father's Son

I don't remember when it happened exactly. There was not a particular moment where I noticed it. In fact, as a kid I would have been embarrassed or even mortified to think it even possible.

Somewhere along the way I turned into my Dad!

Specifically, I notice I have a some of my Dad's traits.

Like being a storyteller...and a people person.

My Dad loves people and it shows. He also can tell a good story.

Actually, without knowing it, my Dad was actually modeling the same kind of traits that Jesus modeled here on earth.

Jesus told lots of stories. Every time someone asked Him a question He invariably seemed to respond with a story. He seemed to use the phrase "The Kingdom of God is like..." quite often. He told numerous parables and even referenced events of the day.

He also had an obvious and immense love for people. Of course, we know how much He loved us, but you could also see that in the day to day displays of grace to those around Him.

Malachi 4: 6 says in part that "And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers..."

When I was in Tennessee last year, I had one of the best times I think I ever had with my Dad. We connected as men and as father and son. My Dad and I talked about a lot and I felt his love.

It was a special time and I found my heart renewed and my love for my Dad greatly increased.

Not only have I noticed how much I reflect my Dad and his traits, I also notice how much my Dad reflects Jesus.

Thanks Dad...for everything.


Guns in the church?

I was a bit surprised this week to read an article in the USA Today about how churches are wrestling with guns in the pews!


Apparently state legislatures in Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan have been wrestling with the idea of allowing weapons in houses of worship.

Is it just me or is something really wrong here?

Apparently people feel they have the right to bear arms in church and are citing the 1st and 2nd amendment! I am still confused as to when the Constitution of the US superseded the Bible!

I seem to recall this Scripture where Peter slices off a mans ear to "protect" Jesus when He was being arrested. Jesus healed the injured man and said that, "He who lived by the sword would die by it!"

Maybe it's just me but I don't know if I feel comfortable with an armed group of worshippers!


Emilda and the Special Olympics

In the Southern part of the Philippines, a family lives in a crowded squatter community beside the public cemetery. There you will find a very special young lady, her name is Emilda. This is her story.

When Emilda was just 2 years old she developed a very high fever. This fever led to a convulsion and Emilda was unconscious for 6 days. When she finally awoke, she could not respond to people the way she previously had. Emilda grew and was enrolled in kindergarten. She was not able to keep up. Today Emilda is 18. She can't sing or dance, she cannot remember colors, letters or numbers. Though she can talk, she can't focus on a conversation very long and loses the point of what she is saying after a few sentences. Yet in all of these struggles, Emilda can do one thing well:

She can run!
It has taken hours of practice and Emilda's family have had to make numerous sacrifices to see her succeed in this one area. And succeed she has.

At the 12th Philippine Special Olympics, Emilda Soriano won a gold medal, two silver medals and a bronze medal in track and field. Her national triumph qualifies her for the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.

It costs a lot of money to send someone as part of a National Delegation to the Special Olympics. The Philippine government isn't able to support athletes competing in the International Special Olympics.

However, we can help. Compassion International is leading the charge to help Emilda overcome barriers and to reach her goal of international competition

Will you join the effort to give Emilda an opportunity of a lifetime?

Your donations will provide for Emilda’s training and equipment expenses, as well as the travel expenses (e.g., passports, visas, food, transportation, lodging, etc.) for Emilda, her mom and her mentor, who is also the director of the development center and will serve as the family’s translator. Neither Emilda nor her mom have ever traveled outside of their country before.

The Project Costs: $19,857
Still Needed: $12,978

You can read more about Emilda here: The Making of a Special Olympic Champion

Compassion International, a 4 star charity according to Charity Navigator, has a special page set up to help donate to Emilda's cause: Send Emilda to the Special Olympics. Any donation is greatly appreciated.

Having overcome so much already, Emilda is already a champion. Now she needs your help to become a track champion as well.


U-Turns and Faith Walks

So here is a question I have been pondering lately: Am I open to a U-Turn if God wants me to go in a different direction?

I remember our time in Croatia as missionaries back in the 90's. We ended up in Croatia by "accident" or as I like to call it, "Godcidence". Originally my wife and I planned to go to Macedonia. We were absolutely convinced this was where we were to go. I had been following the disintegration of Yugoslavia for years and knew the Lord wanted me there.

So I checked into which agencies were working in Macedonia. We found one and applied to join their staff.

We were rejected.

We finally decided to go with YWAM but the only base at the time was in Croatia. We decided to go there and "launch" into Macedonia after getting our feet wet in the Balkans. While working in Croatia, we found out a YWAM prayer team from Canada was going to be heading into Macedonia. We made tentative plans to join them.

A few months before they arrived, we had to go back to the US for a family emergency and then Sarah had a few pregnancy complications and we stayed through the birth...missing the Macedonian prayer trip.

We really felt the Lord wanted us back in Croatia because we were missing what He had for us. So we packed up everything and headed back to Croatia after the birth of our daughter. The next 17 months were amazing, exciting and inspiring. We really felt an amazing love for the country and the people that resides to this day.

Near the end of that time, we helped staff the 1st ever Croatian DTS. The students prayed and felt God was leading them to Macedonia for outreach. We were stoked and the school leader figured, as we did, that Sarah and I would lead the outreach to Macedonia. God again intervened and instead of going to Macedonia, God led us back home!

There is a story about the early life of Jesus. His earthly father, Joseph, and Mary had fled with Jesus to Egypt after His birth because Herod wanted to kill Him. The Lord told Joseph in a dream to head to Egypt so he did! After a time, Herod died and the Lord told Joseph to go back home. When heading in that direction the Lord told him to turn aside to Galilee as Herod's son had assumed power. (Matthew 2:13-22)

1. God knew who would assume power.
2. Galilee was where God needed Jesus to be in order to fulfill some prophesies (God's plans) of the OT.

I often wondered why God did not tell Joseph to just go to Galilee. However, like our family with Macedonia, maybe God needed to get him moving in obedience before revealing more of the plan.

Which leaves me wondering, if God tells me to turn aside in a new direction today...would I still be as obedient?

I pray the answer would still be Yes!


Mixed Signals

Mixed Signals

After a long period of time, some couples can speak without using words. However, the signals sent are not always the signals received

Take today for instance. As my family was finishing up lunch, Sarah looked at me and made a gesture with her eyes. I was not getting her signal. I couldn't figure it out for the life of me. Finally she said that she was trying to tell me how our daughters cold was affecting her eating. I then sahred how I thought she was asking if I wanted more food. Our daughter then popped up that she thought Mom was saying we need to chat in the other room!

We all got a good laugh.

Not so funny is when I miss the things the Lord is trying to communicate to me. It seems I miss the point from time to time with Him as well. In prayer I might ask the Lord for direction and when I get silence (wait, no) I move. When I feel He is saying move (go talk to that person, etc.) I wait.

Sometimes it's because I am not setting aside my own distractions to listen clearly. Sometimes, dare i say, I think I know the answer or what I want the answer to be so I act accordingly. Occasionally I don' move out of fear.

The Bible talks a LOT about listening. Of course, to be a good listener I need to be silent more. It is hard to hear what someone is saying when you keep trying to talk over them.

It just leads to confusion.

Lord, please help me to be a good listener. I want to hear your voice better!

James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;


What If?

There was a comic book I used to love as a kid called What If? It basically took a storyline from another comic and said, "What if they made this decision instead?" It was a fun read but invariably, the alternative decisions that were made never ended well.

You came away realizing that the characters life was better off the way things had actually developed.

Too bad we don't often realize that in real life!

I know so many people who play the what if game. I've played it myself.

What if I took this job instead of that one?
What if I married someone else?
What if I moved here instead of there?

I think you see this a lot in failed marriages. What if my spouse did or said or was "X"?

We also tend to do this a lot when it comes to tough conversations or situations...

What if I had said this or told that person this...yeah that would have showed them!

Sadly, as a Christian, I see too often we play the "What If" game when it comes to our future as well.

What if I (or my spouse) get sick?
What if I lose my job?

The list goes on!

In the end, the "what if" life becomes the paralyzed life. We are so focused on how things should have been or could have been better, that we fail to give thanks in all circumstances. We fail to move beyond the past to the future God has for us!

Even projecting out what could happen, we don't always picture God in those circumstances. Our worst or best case future scenarios don't usually include God moving in the situation.

We spend more time fantasizing the what if than living the life God has for us now!

Jesus said in Luke 12:25, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

Instead of worrying or stressing about the what if or the what was, let's embrace what God has for us right now! Let's thank Him for the What is!

1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."


Sex and the Superbowl

I am an avid football fan. I have only missed watching 1 Superbowl in the last 24 years.

I never really stopped to think about the dirty underbelly of the game.

The Superbowl is the single biggest human trafficking incident in the US! A recent USA Today article highlights this sad story: Child sex rings spike during the Super Bowl

I find this disturbing.

Of course any large event; the Olympics, the World Cup...it's the same story.

What can we do?

Well if you are in the US you can send a message to President Obama. The International Justice Mission is making it easy. You can click here and find a petition to send to Obama asking him to help stop modern day slavery. I would encourage you to send a copy to every one of your government officials.

Outside the US, maybe you can copy and make a variation of this petition for your leaders as well.

You can also help organizations that are fighting this terrible modern day atrocity:

International Justice Mission, IJM Canada, IJM Germany, IJM Netherlands, IJM UK

Free the Slaves

The Salvation Army

Even if all you do is pray, and IJM has a prayer bulletin, you can do something!

Today is the day to get involved. Let's remember Philippians 2:4, "not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."


Changing Trust

So the Mrs. pointed out something to me the other night as we were dealing with a 1 year old experiencing teething pain:

We don't trust God as much as we did on the mission field.

On the mission field, a decade and some change ago, when our daughter had discomfort, pain and ailments..we didn't pump her full of meds.

The same goes for my wife and I. We didn't have the ability to run to the doctor regularly and so when we encountered hardships, we prayed!

Now that we are back in N. America, when our son has an issue or any of us are felling under the weather, we run to the doctor or throw some medicine at it.

I am NOT criticizing doctors or medicine. I believe God gave us both for a reason. I fully believe He can use both for His glory. This goes to trust. When it was difficult to go to the doc or acquire meds we just went right to the Great Physician. Something popped up and we prayed.

With an abundance of resources at our fingertips we tend to rely more on meds/docs and less on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Not to say we don't pray and don't trust...sadly just not enough. We plan on changing that though.

"Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock." (Isaiah 26:4)